This month I am beyond pleased to interview my new friend Brenda Kinsel. Brenda is a published author and image consultant in the Bay Area. When I met Brenda for the first time I was immediately impressed with her confidence, courage and creativity with her own style. She didn’t scream “image consultant”, she just simply had great style. She is darling, full of fun, and guess what? She is my age. Brenda’s website brendakinsel.com is a wealth of information. I have gleaned more wisdom about honing my own style from Brenda’s website than I have from all my other sources combined. I encourage you to check out her website, sign up for her blog, like her on facebook, and sign up for her tips and teasers newsletter. Check out her articles on “beauty bundles”. She is a master at accessorizing
How Would You Describe Your Style?
At this moment, in this month and year, I’d describe my style this way: Feminine/dramatic Modern Playful, and some Luxury Organic thrown in When I’m working with my personal clients on their style I always tell them we’re going to create their style recipe based on this month and this year. I want them to be totally up-to-date and current with their personal style and how they want to be expressing themselves. I follow my own advice. I’ve woven through periods where I wanted to be edgy and rock and roll in my style. I went through my black-leather-and-lace Italian romantic style phase. I’ve had an organic, natural phase as well. Right now at 65, I think I’m bringing into my style recipe some of the things I hated hearing people say about me when I was in high school or college. I hid the fact that I was awarded Miss Congeniality in the North Dakota Junior Miss pageant in my teens. People would tell my parents how sweet and nice and adorable I was. All the while I was writing for an underground newspaper and organizing protests. Nice, sweet and adorable didn’t fit my inner persona at all. But with some experience and wisdom behind me, I’m reconsidering all that. If someone says ‘you look adorable, Brenda’, I don’t cringe. In fact I rather like it! I’m embracing my Midwestern Nice heritage and it shows up in more joyful colors, cheerful prints, and fun accessories. I’m coming into my joyful period. As soon as I got done saying that, I realize I have to add that I’ll always love classic, sleek, elegant looks and will wear them. I’ll just find a way to add “playful” to it them be more me.
What inspires your signature style?
Life! Living! Exploring parts of myself that I haven’t explored yet inspires my style. Being receptive to life and being open to fashion and the evolution of fashion keeps me updating my style as well. I’m always studying trends and figuring out ways to bring slices of them into my own wardrobe and my clients’ wardrobes. I think it keeps us modern and modern keeps us youthful. I think it’s really important to have younger friends as well as older friends. Being open to different points of view socially and politically can also inform style. When our bodies change, it’s important to figure out how to dress them. I had so much fun during my voluptuous phase when I was wearing sizes 12-14. I felt very sensual and sexy. And my style reflected that. And now I’d say Instagram is one of the most fun ways of staying style-inspired. Again, I love following young people and older people on Instagram. I get ideas from all ages.
What accessory Can You Not Do Without?
I have to look at accessories as bundles. I’d say most days I’m wearing a necklace (or two or three or four), a bracelet (or two or three or four), earrings, rings, and a handbag I love. I can’t imagine having one favorite accessory, although I’ve collected and adored handbags all my life. If I had to choose between handbags and shoes I’d choose handbags every time. Favorite Color Oh no! I can’t choose! I love black and white. I’m currently bringing more shades of blue into my wardrobe, and I’m loving that. Also orange and yellow. I also love colors like sage green and a faint violet. With my hair being au natural for the last few years, it has really changed my colors and how I wear them. I’m having a great time exploring color right now!
Do you have a signature piece that defines your style?
I always enjoy meeting people who have a signature piece. It makes them so memorable. I love the stability of it. Right now, if feel like my teenager self who loved clothes and experimented with clothes. As a teenager I worked in department stores and saw how everything in a store could change in a month. So I’m personally not married to a signature piece. I’m back to experimenting!
What are your style strengths?
I love creating outfits. The most fun for me is to get playtime in my closet every weekend. I enjoy organizing, editing, and putting things together in new ways. So maybe my strength is that I enjoy playing so I really use my clothes. I like taking a serious piece and making it more casual. Nothing stays “precious” in my wardrobe. I see everything as an equal opportunity garment that’s just ready to be put to work in an outfit whether that’s a jean jacket from TJMaxx, a fancy Etro blouse from Nordstrom, or an easy to wear dress from J.Jill.
Do you have a style icon?
Not really. I have a wandering eye when it comes to appreciating style on people. I enjoy seeing people who fully embrace their style. There’s a sales associate at Nordstrom who really has fun with fashion. Maybe she’s my style icon at the moment. Her name is Mariam.
What are your beauty essentials that you couldn’t do without?
Serum and moisturizer! My skin would love a moisture transfusion every four hours or less! Every time I think about chocolate I should apply moisturizer. Currently I’m getting my moisture fix from Chanel Sublimage cream, Clarins Double Serum, and Clarins Super Restorative Night cream which I wear for day.
Do you have repeat offenders in your closet if so what are they?
No offenders in my closet! Everything has been well chosen and gets worn well. I think it helps a lot if you can return clothes and get your money back from places. That way if you bring home something that looked great in the dressing room but fails to perform in the light of day at home, you can take it back.
What advice do you have for women over 50?
To be honest, all of the advice I’ve given over the years through my books, newsletters, blogging, and teaching still rings true. Here are some of the things I said 30 years ago and they’re still true, maybe especially true for women over 50. Only buy what you love. You’re worth full-price. When life changes, change the clothes you’re wearing to meet those changes. Some clothes are like dairy products; they expire. Get those out of your closet so they won’t spoil anything else in there. Getting dressed is an opportunity for personal expression and joy beyond words. Grab that opportunity! You matter, now more than ever. Feel pleased about how you look. I think my mission my whole career has been to change the way women see themselves and talk about themselves. They can be so cruel and unkind to themselves. I try to dissolve that unkindness and replace it with the joy of personal expression, which leads to self-acceptance and self-love.
Do you have any style rules that you live by?
Keep your fashion feet moving! There are so many outdated rules out there. Dump the rules and discover what’s true for you.
What are your favorite online go to sources?
I am a touchy feely person and online shopping doesn’t appeal to me. Maybe it will, but so far I love being in stores seeing color, feeling fabrics, and watching the way a jacket sits on the shoulders. I like the live experience of shopping. Do you have a particular designer that you are drawn to? I do fancy Etro for its fancifulness! But I also enjoy minimal design, which can be the hardest thing to execute well. When something is simple and elegant, it’s supreme! I like Dries Van Noten, Erdem, and Fabiana Fillippi. For my clients, I watch for interesting pieces plus workhorse basics you could wear tomorrow in Lafayette 148.
If you would like to order any of Brenda’s books click on any of the pictures below
I hope you are enjoying the Ageless Style Series. Hop on over to “La Contessa’s blog (the Vintage Contessa)” . You know she owns her own style and is sure to have someone interesting this month. If you would like to read about who I interviewed last month go here.